Updated with video. Pilsdon Centre unveils £1.3m refurbishment

Francesca Roberts at the refurbished Pilsdon Centre

Francesca Roberts at the refurbished Pilsdon Centre

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THE Pilsdon Community in West Dorset can now open its doors to welcome more wayfarers in need of refuge thanks to a £1.3 million project.

This project had an official unveiling this week to show how the money has been spent with representatives from the organisations and companies involved in the converting old stables into single rooms, a kitchen annex, an activities room and winter housing for cows.

Pilsdon warden, the Rev Michael Deegan, said: "The project will make a big difference to how we can serve the wayfarers and general population of vulnerable adults.

"We are one of the few places that wayfarers can walk in and stay for the night - that is the core of what Pilsdon started as 55 years ago."

The kitchen annex will help the community process their own produce - it is already 70 per cent self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables and 100 per cent in meat and dairy products on the 13 acre holding.

Mr Deegan added: "The completion of this final phase of the five-year project has helped set Pilsdon a path to the future.

"These new building give Pilsdon flexibility for growth and the space to be creative both with our longer term guests and with those who visit for shorter times. We are grateful to our supporters and for the generous partnership of the construction industry charity Crash, EC Harris and BAM, and all the companies that worked in support of Pilsdon to make this a reality."

Pilsdon houses around 20 longer term guests and now has room for 14 or so wayfarers.

Trustee Amanda Streatfeild said: "The conversion has been so sympathetically done and looks wonderful. It generates a real feeling of pride for the people who live here all the time as well as short term visitors.

"We have learnt as trustees just how much goodwill there is out there for community projects like this.

Chairman of trustees Hilary Joyce said: "The project has worked like clockwork. It has been not only a building project but something people have become emotionally involved with.

"We were very lucky to be put in touch with two firms EC Harris and BAM who just employ the best in the world."

Those referrals came from the building industry charity Crash headed by CEO Francesca Roberts.

She said: "Crash is the construction industry's charity to help homeless people. We are able to bring together all the companies within the industry to harness their professional expertise and their construction materials and their donations.

"The savings that those companies who got involved here were able to make was very close to £200,00."

Philip Youell, chief executive of EC Harris said Pilsdon was a project they had been proud to be involved in.

He said: "It has not been difficult to get the energy from our people because of what this place stands for.

"It not just business, the community has to want something and there is a real need here in the broadest sense."

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